As Atlanta Public Schools’ highest-ranking JROTC cadet, 18-year-old Haleigh Jones knows a thing or two about discipline. This summer, she will begin basic training at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point – a life goal that did not come without doubters and challenges.
“I received the letter of assurance and everyone was congratulating me for getting into West Point, but I knew I still needed to pass the physical assessment,” Haleigh said. “If you fail one portion, you had to retake it. I took it four times. I had to run a mile, shutter run under 11 seconds, max out on crunches, and do a pull up or a flex arm hang. I couldn’t do the pull up, and I kept thinking, ‘If I don’t get in because of a pull up, I will be disappointed.’ With practice, I was able to do a flex arm hang for 33 seconds.”
Haleigh has applied the same tenacity to her studies. She has maintained a 3.9 GPA throughout her high school tenure and is ranked in the top 10 percent of her graduating class. She has accomplished this while staying active in JROTC, academic clubs, dance, sports, and holding a part-time job.
“Time management is a big thing that I had to get through,” Haleigh said. “I’ve always been pretty organized, but I learned that if you don’t stay organized and keep up with the days and time, you will get left behind. I don’t want to be the child that gets left behind.”
Haleigh certainly does not have to worry about being left behind. The youngest of three, she was often overshadowed by her two older siblings who also graduated from APS. Thus, going to West Point is something she wanted to do for herself.
“I wanted to create something different for myself,” she said. “I’m going to graduate from college debt-free.”
A lifelong APS student, Haleigh is ecstatic to graduate from Benjamin E. Mays High School in May.
“No matter what people say about public schools or inner-city schools, we will always find a way to shine,” she said. “It has taught me how to network and step outside the box. We are on the same scale. Whatever someone else can do, we can do it too.”
She is most proud of her ability to persevere in spite of naysayers.
“Not letting people bring me down or feeling bad for myself because people don’t see a goal that I see. I went to a school, Lab Atlanta, for a semester. One of my instructors told me my eyes were too big for my stomach because I wanted to go to West Point.”
It seems her vision was clear after all.
“I have a problem when people tell me I can’t do something, so I have to show them how to do that,” said Haleigh.
|College/University||United States Military Academy at West Point|
|Awards/Recognition||Top 10% of Class, Highest ranking cadet in APS, Honor Guard Battalion Commander, ROTC Colonel, Brigade Commander, Berea College Carter G. Woodson Legacy Award|
President of National Honor Society, Science Honor Society member, Superintendent Young Ambassadors, Skills USA (11th grade year), Dance Ensemble (9-11th), Volleyball Team member (12th grade)
Atlanta Public Schools will host high school commencement exercises Saturday, May 18 – Friday, May 24, 2019. All ceremonies — except Atlanta Classical Academy and Charles R. Drew Charter School — will be held at Georgia Institute of Technology, McCamish Pavilion,965 Fowler Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. For more information on commencement exercises, go to http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/gradnation.
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